A suggestion has been made for part of the Marsa open centre to be used as a designated area where migrants can express their interest in employment and employers can approach prospective employees through a legal and regularised manner.
This could help address the situation of having migrants picked up irregularly from roundabouts near the open centre.
Addressing a press conference following the Council of Europe’s anti-racism body’s fourth report on Malta, published last week, Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo and the Minster responsible for Social Dialogue and Civil Liberties, Helena Dalli, said they are assessing ways of working with NGOs and people at open centres, to improve work-related matters.
The government reiterated its commitment to work against discrimination on the basis of race and its intention to focus on law enforcement.
Mr Bartolo said the report noted the progress registered from a legal perspective since 2008 but the greatest challenge for the island is enforcement and taking action against irregularities.
Together with Dr Dalli, over the past days Mr Bartolo visited the Marsa open centre and in a lengthy meeting spoke to all residents. They expressed their concerns regarding employment, housing, education and equal treatment.
Experience shows that whenever policy makers “from the outside” introduced things at the open centre, or had maintenance works carried out, these did not last long. However, when the residents were allowed to take initiative, things worked out, Mr Bartolo said.
The government is also aware that a plan is necessary to improve education.
Mr Bartolo pointed out that the education system is facing an increasing number of children attending public schools, who do not speak Maltese or English. The number of Eastern Europeans in such a situation is higher than the number of Africans who do not speak English or Maltese, he said.
Precise figures on this are being compiled and more details will be given over the coming days. Children who do not speak any of the two main languages used on the island are not just entering schools at lower grades but even at higher grades. The St Paul’s Bay School for instance has 70 children who cannot speak any of the two languages.
Another problem is that the families often change their place of residence and school hopping is frequent, making it difficult for the children to do well in school.